Productivity can be an elusive concept, especially when you can’t put a finger on what makes you hyped at the first place. Some swear by working at the wee hours of the morning. Others say that they can only get productive well into the afternoon. And some of us just struggle all day long with finding the right routine.
If you are among the latter, perhaps you have been approaching productivity from the wrong angle. Did you know that most people around the world tend to adhere to either a time based productivity model or an event based productivity model?
If you wake up to an alarm set at a specific time, eat your meals when the clock strikes a particular hour and set your goals with specific time limits, you follow a time based model. On the other hand, if you rise when your body naturally wakes up, eat when you’re hungry and schedule your day according to a loosely established to-do list, you follow an event based model.
“How people approach productivity might be different but everyone’s quest in relation to time is the same,” said Lee Whitbread, CEO of Money Pug. “We all want to boost our performance levels, save time and money and improve our emotional state. I’ve yet to meet or hear of a person whose productivity goals run contrary to these.”
In the end, nobody sticks with any either models 100% of the time. Our obligations, unforeseen events and other factors mean that none of us has full control over our schedule (even when we attempt to). Still, most of us lean towards one or the other with a view to implementing continuous improvement.
Until recently, if you followed a time based productivity model, life was probably easier for you. These are the folks who are often deemed to be ‘good workers’. They are reliably punctual. They keep schedules that are easy to predict. Most employment models are based on clock time.
If you’re a freelancer, that may be changing. Time based productivity models simply don’t work as well for us. This is true both for clients who want to get the most out of the freelancers they hire and for freelancers who want to manage their time better.
It makes less sense to measure hourly productivity without hourly pay
When employers pay workers by the hour, it only makes sense that they want a time based accounting of how those workers spend their time. After all, they are on the clock. Things are different with freelancers. Charging by the hour isn’t the best pricing strategy for determining your rates. Hence, it makes little sense to track your productivity in that way.
To be clear, event based productivity doesn’t eschew time altogether. But, you can follow this model and still be cognizant of deadlines, for example.
Event based model allows you to work at your best
When the clock dictates your schedule, you can’t take into account your mood or energy levels. It’s also difficult to switch gears when urgencies change. Freelancers who adhere to an event based model can do what needs to be done when they are mentally prepared to give and they have better flexibility to change tasks midstream.
In fact, for many freelancers, it’s better to focus on energy management than time management. Consider the eight-hour work day that is largely considered to be the model of a full day of work. However, it was developed with factory work in mind. In reality, you’re probably only productive for three out of eight hours each day.
“With energy management, good sleep and balanced nutrition, gig workers can map their daily activities to the appropriate times,” said Joy Elena, CEO of Sleepenvie. Quality sleep and daily naps are particularly important for boosting productivity levels. And then, time periods with moderate, stable energy levels are good for heads down, focused tasks. High energy periods are great for engaging with potential clients.”
Clients have to be less concerned with being overcharged for hours
It’s easier for freelancers to charge by the job rather than by the hour if their work isn’t being assessed according to the number of hours they put into a project. Instead, the final product becomes the focus. A successful freelancer is no longer one who works insane hours. Instead, it’s one who works efficiently and completes their projects successfully and within the agreed budget. While no freelancer should pad their hours, the temptation to do this is much less when those are not the focus.
Time based productivity is somewhat demotivating
One of the key reasons that people go into freelancing is because they want more control over their schedule. They no longer want to ‘punch a clock’ so to speak. Unfortunately, if they are still basing their perception of productivity on the clock, not much has changed.
Flexibility is the key
The best freelancers aren’t going to adhere to either model 100%. Instead, they will use event based productivity to stay motivated and on top of their tasks. Then, they’ll use the clock to ensure that they are mindful of deadlines and respectful of the time of their clients and associates.
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